Theatrical wunderkind Robert Lepage, whose Needles And Opium and epic Dragons' Trilogy marked him as a visual artist on the level of Robert Wilson and Julie Taymor, has returned to New York's Brooklyn Academy Of Music with The Seven Streams Of The River Ota, a two part, 7-hour epic that connects the Holocaust, Hiroshima, the Cold War and the AIDS epidemic.
The piece premiered at the Edinburgh Festival in 1994 and has since undergone major revisions to tighten and bring focus to the material. By the time the show opened at London's Lyttelton Theatre, Sept. 21, West End critics, with few exceptions, raved about the show's scope, its visual audacity, and its ability to underpin tragic events with moments of great humor.
One critic said of the piece, "[It's] a fabulous Zen soap opera, spanning fifty years of world history and three continents. To stage it, Lepage works magic with a series of sliding screens." Another reviewer noted that Lepage got the idea for the play when he visited Hiroshima: "He expected to find a place shadowed by disaster and despair, but instead found a vital, optimistic city."
Seven Streams, since commencing its run at BAM, has garnered highly favorable reviews from the New York press. Peter Marks of New York Times' described the production as "an ambitious, rambling, exhilarating portrait of human resilience amid the cultural shifts and multiple apocalypses of the mid- to late 20th century...the product of an artist at the height of his powers." Newsday's Aileen Jacobson praised Lepage's imagery, making "you sit in awe... grateful to be part of a near-overwhelming theatrical experience," further adding that the piece is "easily as ambitious in millennial scope as Tony Kushner's Angels in America."
The two-part production plays in repertory through Dec. 14. The performance schedule can be found in Playbill On-Line's Theatre Listings. For tickets call Ticketmaster at (212) 307-4100. For information concerning BAM subscriptions or BAM's 1996 Next Wave Festival, call (718) 636-4100.